Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#DWCC14: Campaigns – one reason I blog

 Damien Wilson

The 'anti-blogging' session, chaired by Damien Wilson, at the 2014 DWCC was largely disappointing. Louise Hurren's presentation stood out as being interesting, useful and thoughtful. Evelyne Resnick appeared to be thinking that she was talking to a group of producers and the conclusions she presented following her three-year study into bloggers were rather banal and elementary. 

Louise Hurren
Evelyne Resnick

Etienne Hugel 

Etienne Hugel was interesting initially but his presentation was overlong, self-indulgent and became an embarrassing piece of self-promotion, including promoting his wife and her activities. The concluding presentation from Robert Joseph was sadly largely glib and facile.
The session did, however, make me reflect on why I blog.  

Robert Joseph

One of the strongest reasons is that it allows me to campaign. I use 'campaign' in a broad sense. Most obviously this applies to investdrinks, which exists to try to warn people of the potential pitfalls and to highlight companies from whom I would not buy wine nor the carbon credits, diamonds, graphene, plots of land etc. that some companies also punt as investments.

Campaigning is an aspect of wine blogging that gets very little attention. It certainly didn’t feature in the DWCC’s ‘anti-blogging’ session.  

Yet the Internet can be a powerful and very useful tool. Not only can the net be a means of getting information and warnings out but, equally important, it can be a brilliant source of information. Quite how brilliant only became clear after I set up my investdrinks website in 2000. I have frequently had an initial tip-off about companies on the ever-growing list from whom I would not buy. Often it is an enquiry about whether I have heard about a particular company, although sometimes I am given more details. Either way this then allows me to look more closely at a company - see who the directors are, when the company was set up and look at their website if they have one.    

Having the freedom to write about anything that interests me is a great plus. This means that when I visit a producer I can write about them irrespective of their size. I can blog about producers or events too small or too local to be of interest to a magazine. This gives me a lot of freedom when visiting producers as I can always write about them or include photos of them on Jim's Loire or possibly Les 5 du Vin

This freedom is equally useful when warning about dubious investment companies or wine companies such as 1855 that defraud their clients by failing to deliver wine they have ordered. Certainly magazines, newspapers, broadcasters etc. do run news stories on these companies and features on investment but there is limit to the number of times they can publish such stories or news items. With a blog or your own website there is no such restriction. For instance I can and have posted frequently about 1855’s fraudulent behaviour.


Anonymous said...

And though happily I have never needed your guidance on such matters a very good thing it is too that you can and do do this,


WineBusProf said...

Dear Jim,

As always, it is both stimulating and informative to read any one of your blog posts. Your capacity to synthesise each piece of information into a fluid message is one of the key reasons that I find myself frequently on the front page of Jim's Loire. And here, for the first time, I'm in print instead of reading print.

Thank-you for taking an interest, and the time to share your thoughts on my Antiblogging session in Montreux. I've only ever known you as a committed wine blogger, and it's the blogger's passion and credibility that are essential to readers if we are to reposition wine in the minds of consumers and enthusiasts alike. I believe that in order to exercise this goal, we need to encourage open discussion, and honest commentary to best serve the interests of the wine sector's recovery and development.

That you attended my session was very much appreciated. Your notoriety as a campaigner is what brings a smile to my face whenever I think of the signature shirts, and your trusty camera. That you were disappointed in the Antiblogging presentation's content is actually flattering. I'll explain.

Firstly, if we have a continuum of wine blogger ideals, where one end has bloggers with integrity and influence, I'd have put you somewhere close to that terminus. As you may have picked up in the midst of your disappointment, our session was directly focused at the bloggers rapidly accruing at other end of that continuum.

I'm now thinking that we should have used the word 'accountable' more often in our discussions. As you may have heard, a number of respondents believed that we were asking bloggers to sell their integrity. Perhaps our use of the word 'Professional' communicated this sentiment. I can't be sure, but I'll keep that in mind for next year.

The feedback suggesting we were encouraging bloggers to sell their opinions could not be further from the truth. A blogger is believed to be influential because his/her readers believe the blogger writes with knowledge and integrity. So when you, Jim, write about the cash-for-critic, or Huet affairs, I have complete faith that you're the font of knowledge, and up-to-date on what's happening. As such, for you in Montreux, my session would have been irrelevant, and could have even been considered insulting. I assure you that the panel's message was directed far away from Jim's Loire.

My panel was assigned a fairly simple message to convey. In general, as commercial managers, most vignerons make great farmers. These farmers know their product well, but have little idea how to publicise, or sell. Bloggers can offer a solution, or they could just end up being yet another expense to the farmer.

When my panel chastised bloggers who ride the coat-tails of vigneron desperation, what you heard was an irrelevant message. Yet, from the feedback I've received from other sources, I've learned a lot more about the challenge in communicating that message than I expected to. What we were demanding of bloggers is accountability. When responses to that demand then become personal, or deflect the issue, I think that it's time to take a closer look.

So, thanks again for your tireless efforts to keep us all informed of the wrongs in the wine world, Jim. You've inspired me again to continue my work in this field. Please keep it as interesting as you have over the years. We're much better off here with you as a wine blogger!

Robert Joseph said...

I'm sorry you found my effort glib and facile. I agree with you about Louise's presentation which was certainly the best of the set. I also readily acknowledge the value of the blogger-as-activist. I was one of the awards jury that publicly acknowledged your efforts in this regard.

But blogger-activists are the rare exception to the rule in wine. As indeed are bloggers like myself who focus on writing about the *business* of making, marketing and selling wine. Neither of these were the focus of the brief for the presentation I was asked to give.

As Damien Wilson said at the beginning, the thrust of the session was about the relationship between bloggers and producers/distributors.

Like Louise, I was talking about the majority of bloggers - yourself included - who write about wines after accepting hospitality of some kind from the producer and/or distributor. But I also pointed out just how much of our media today is driven wholly or partly by PR. As I pointed out from the Cardiff study

"19% of newspaper stories and 17% of broadcast stories were verifiably derived mainly or wholly from PR material, while less than half
the stories we looked at appeared to be entirely independent of traceable PR. "

So, on the one hand, we have PRs who are effectively taking over what should be fact-based, impartial traditional media. On the other, we have bloggers with highly questionable levels of influence, either behaving like lapdogs (like the ones who wrote so glowingly of the 2013 Bordeaux vintage), fanzine-editors or dysfunctional rottweilers.

Jim, I respect you as one of the serious commentators who falls into none of these camps.

Jim Budd said...

Many thanks for your kind and detailed response.

We are in entire agreement on the need to be professional and that if you accept invitations you have certain obligations, while guarding one's independence and being able to do so.

I covered this briefly back in 2011 at the Brescia conference.

Will reply more fully later.



Jim Budd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Budd said...


Further to you kind comment I think the 'campaign' aspect of blogging and the net is a possible topic for DWCC 2015.It would be good to see more investigative pieces etc.

Jim Budd said...

Edited version (removing typos) of my response to Robert:

Thanks Robert. Writers have always written about places or wines when they have accepted an invitation. It was the same when you ran Wine magazine. I try only to accept samples or hospitality for areas that interest me and Carole and I fund the vast majority of my travel in the Loire.

You commented that few bloggers have covered recent events at Tesco. I did comment on this in the latest edition of Circle Update. I haven't, however, blogged about this in part because it has received plenty of coverage elsewhere. I also prefer to see what the outcome of the investigation will be. This may well take a considerable time if the Serious Fraud Office gets involved.

WineBusProf said...

Jim, as usual, you pose a very interesting suggestion. I'm back at the office as of tomorrow, and will chase you up about this idea. I was thinking along similar lines.

Watch this space :-)

Jim Budd said...

Excellent Damien. Good news.